Heavy Metal: Discussion Forums Topic: Tank Battles of The Gulf War
Subject: Mostly anecdotal evidence From: Scott Cunningham Date: 12/13/98 11:49:17 AM Most accounts of the Gulf War are anecdotal in nature. Because the ground campaign lasted only 100 hours most tankers did not "experience" enough to fill a book. Also, much of the fighting took the nature of long range gunnery engagements, often at night. There are numerous accounts in "Armor" magazine, as well as a decent account of the Battle of 73 Easting in Tom Clancy's "Armored Cav". Finally the book "Iron Soldiers" a paperback account of the 1st AD in the war, is pretty good. A major reason that few written accounts exist is that no newspaer reporters got too close to the action. Close in this case being riding in a vehicle within sight of the combat. All that being said, a lot of the anecdotal accounts and stories are fascinating. One friend of mine was involved in a close range night battle as part of 1st AD, at Medina ridge I believe. He said it was pretty intense and extremely confused. His account was that they had destroyed by fire, then ground assault, an Iraqi position on a ridge, and then were held up there while the MLRS and arty prepped the next objective and flanking units moved. He said this was the scariest part of the war because it was night and there were still dismounted Iraqis all over the ridge, most probably survivors from the destroyed vehicles. He even mentioned that he had gone through three magazines of .45 pistol ammo as there were dismounts all around his tank at several stages of the fight and he didn't care who they were, he just wanted to keep them away from the tank. ------ Subject: Re: Gulf War From: Phil Bradley Date: 12/13/98 5:11:43 PM "Iron Soldiers" gives a good account of the nature of the battle at Medina Ridge. One bit that fascinated me was how on the heatscope they could see all these "bowling balls" 10 feet up in the air. Then they realised they were the heads of Iraqi Tank commanders sticking out of the turrets of cold tanks. Just a matter of aiming a bit lower- even if the tanks were behind sand berms the shots were hitting home. Anyone have more background on US tank losses- the only one I remember from the book was an Iraqi tank playing dead opening up on an Abrams at close range- I think most of the crew got out.
Subject: War Stories From: Wade Barttels (email@example.com) Date: 12/19/98 1:09:11 PM Many people that post things about the war in the Gulf are second hand accounts and have been embellished a bit (okay alot). I was there and saw some action and have to say that war is a young mans sport as when you are 18 you are immortal and when you are 36 you are very mortal and careful. I have to say I saw enough action to make me happy I did not see anymore. Some people that tell very detailed war stories may not have been there at all. There one guy that claimed a 5000 meter plus shot and kill on a T72 when I asked him some common tanker questions (how when the FCS stops computing at 4000m did he engage? with an estimated range on GAS? etc) he never posted again. Hell, when we got back I got 4 new guys in my platoon and one of the TC's in the platoon was telling a war story to the new guys and most of the platoon prsent was there and we couldn't believe the BS he was trying to pass off. I said he must have had a different sector of the battle field under observation to have done what he was saying as it never happened that way that the rest of us remembered. Also I was told by some of the people that were in the area where the book Iron Soldiers covers it is not all true so just because it is printed doesn't mean it is true. Just my few thoughts Wade
Subject: Re: War Stories From: Dan Welch Date: 12/19/98 5:40:58 PM I think you may be talking about that guy that was boasting about the (I think he said) 5700m shot he made over there. I asked similar questions, but I've been gone to the field/recovery for the last couple weeks and haven't checked posts til today. The guy also wasn't very literate. I thought Franks/Clancy's' book was great, and I got to meet Franks at the Armor Conference a couple of years ago. I was honored to be able to demonstrate that the ARSI was a piece of shit, in the hopes me might have some kind of influence in stopping it's funding. He agreed that it was a piece of shit, and then asked the TI rep that was there what he thought, and all the guy could say was that they appreciated guys like my input, so that they could use it for improvements. This was shortly after he retired, but guys like him still pull a lot of weight. And he's DEFINITELY a soldiers' kind of general. When he saw my BRO patch, he asked if I remembered that he was my corps commander during the gulf, and I simply said yes sir. I think he was a little taken aback that I didn't say more, as I understand he really likes to talk to the guys, and now I wish I had, as I admire him greatly. Schwartzkopf is way overblown, but Franks rules. During the war, I was TC of A22, A Co, 2-34 AR, 1 ID(M), but was task organized with TF 5-16 Inf., so fought under LTC Baker instead of LTC Fontenot. I was happier that way, for reasons not necessary here. Initially we saw our first action after the move west, when we spent around a week on the sand wall/anti-tank ditch that divided what was the neutral zone between Iraq-Saudi. This was mostly shooting up outposts, which we did with coax, 25mm (from the Bradleys), and mortar fire. The mortars had all our locations, which were ramps bulldozed up to the sandwall across the ditch at something like 200m or so intervals. All we had to do was shoot an azimuth and laze for range, send this up with a spotrep and RFF, and we'd get mortar rounds on the target. There were a couple of recognizable features to our front, so we shot azimuths before we pulled the tanks onto the ramps, and then eye-balled it from there. This worked pretty good, and my PSG got a direct hit on one OP. I shot up another OP, but don't really care to talk about it. I fought in two major engagements during the war. I had a mineroller during the breach in 1ID(M)'s sector, and breached, if I remember right, lane F, as it was the second lane in TF 5-16's sector to the right of TF 2-34, and we each had 4 lanes to cut, one per company team. We had a lot of dismounts that came out of the trenches as we moved up to make contact after we crossed the sandwall, and then we stopped around 2-3km short of the main line, which was across a very long valley parallel to their trenches. If I remember right, it was the 26th reserve division we were breaching. I've got the map I used, but I'd have to dig it out. The valley wasn't really much of a valley, maybe 20-30m deep at most, but seemed huge compared to what we were used to down south. The task forces were just huge, and I remember just being totally awe inspired, as even during our brigade rehearsals, you didn't see it all arrayed so large. I think I probably was looking at more than our brigade, and had only seen anything like this before at a place called Unterschleichach during Reforger 88. (I remember the name because I kept refering to it as Untershitbach.) I remember the arty prep well, as the guns were lined up behind us, and the noise was constant for quite a while, with the rumble kind of growing louder up and down the line as the different batteries were firing, and although we'd had some pretty impressive preps go out while we were at the sand wall, they were nothing like this. A captain I worked with at Knox who was in 1ID Divarty at the time said the division fired 78,000 rounds during the prep, but I think I've read that it was more like 20,000 or something. Whatever, it was incredible. The biggest emotion I remember feeling as we waited for the prep to finish was that I couldn't believe this was really happening, but just wanted to get it over with. I read a lot of history, and figured at the time that this should be something like Kursk, as the size of the area and numbers involved should make it quite a bloodbath. But I'd been thinking the same thought so much since the bombing had begun that I really did just want to get on with it. The platoon leaders led the breach columns with Magellans so that we'd breach in the right places, and if I remember right the engineers had gone forward ahead and stuck these huge plywood signs with letters for the lanes on them forward of the breach sites to help guide us into the right place. We had rehearsed it that way, and I think we actually did it that way. The plow tanks led, in staggered column, with the second off to the left and the third off to the right, to try to shove the spoil away completely, as we'd found that mines would fall back from the spoil into lane. It wasn't perfect, but it worked better than any other way. We had two mine rollers in my lane, and I was the second, and we followed the plows to proof the lane. We received some small arms and mortar fire during the breach, but didn't have any damage other than bullet pock marks in the paint, etc. Some of the guys had some encounters with RPGs, but no-one that I know of suffered any damage. I fired some coax and a HEAT round during this, and will leave it at that. The only armor we encountered were Cascavel armored cars with 90mm guns firing from the left flank from a place called 12K. I remember the name because we had to clear it the next day and spent several hours there. They fired on TF2-34 to our left, but were knocked out before they hit anything. There were T55s, T12 anti-tank guns and D30 guns marked on the maps (these were photocopies of the map with overlay on it, as we didn't have maps enough to go down to platoons), but this stuff was pretty much knocked out before we breached. I ran over a mine right after I dropped my mine-roller, but it didn't do any real damage other than chunking rubber. After I dropped my roller, the tanks ahead moved off to the right to conduct what we called "hunter-killer", and I pulled forward to wait for the rest of my platoon to come through the breach so we could push out to provide far security. (I was cross-attached to another platoon from D Co for the breach, since we had an extra roller and my platoon was not a plow platoon.) The hunter-killers used two plow tanks side by side with the inner plows dropped to fill in trenches, with either a pair of bradleys or tanks escorting to echelon left and right in wedge. These either forced out Iraqi dismounts or buried them. I won't go into details friends have given me. We secured the far side by pushing out something like 2km, and while the HK's finished the front, we didn't have any encounters the rest of the day. The second day, we moved up onto 12K, which was a Bn CP, and cleared it. We fired coax into bunker apertures, etc., but other than some RPG's trying to move into our right rear through the trenches, nothing really fired back. The RPGs were taken out by our flanking company who was covering our right. Most of the Iraqi's who'd been here had surrendered or deserted, and the Bn Cdr and his staff had stayed until we arrived. They surrendered immediately. We dismounted to clear the strongpoint, which was very large, and encountered a lot of dead and destroyed equipment. We lost one kid who stepped on unexploded submunitions and lost his feet, and I was saved by a grunt kid who saw one I was about to step on as I was scanning further ahead. The CO split up the Iraqis and gave them out to the clearing teams, and we used them to go into the bunkers and do the work, the logic being if they booby-trapped the place, better them set it off than us. I know this was wrong, but it made sense at the time, and although I knew Geneva/Hague conventions well, it didn't even occur to me. It just made sense and we did it. We moved out from there that afternoon, and started prepping for further ops, although we had been told we were going into corps reserve after the breach. That evening, we got a frago that said we were going to head north instead of going into corps reserve, and would participate in the attack on the RGSF. I remember my gunner, Blackshear, who had been kind of tense but doing well up to now, immediately took on the look of a guy who had received word that he had a fatal disease and was trying to deal with it. We made a series of moves throughout that night, if I remember right, it rained all night. We didn't get any sleep, as we were in our stations and they kept moving us as the TF got into position and formation for the move north. We moved out very early, and continued north all day, stopping once to refuel in the afternoon. I almost ran over some Iraqis near some brush who were laying down and trying not to be seen. I thought they were baggage at first that had been abandoned, until one raised his head. We shifted just before we crushed them, and SSG Bower behind me checked them real quick to make sure they were disarmed and pointed them south. I also almost ran over another mine that afternoon, as they had thrown some around the sides of some dunes in a harrassing manner. We came up behind 2nd ACR that night, and did an incredible maneuver as 2-34 and 5-16 had to cross over each other to get into position. We did this in column in broken moonlight and MLRS rocket streaks at about 40kph and no one hit each other. It looked like we'd practiced this. I wish Franks could have seen this. As we got closer, we started seeing some groups of disarmed Iraqis and individuals, many of whom were unguarded and got spooked as we rolled by, running around in the dark. They probably couldn't see us well and were trying to prevent being crushed. We got into position, and staggered our formation with 2 Co/Tm's forward and 2 back, and I believe TF 2-34 did it the same way. The concept was for the 2 forward to do the destruction while the 2 rear covered the rear to prevent bypassed stuff from engaging the forward tms and mop up anthing that was initially bypassed. We were one of the rear teams, and I think we were about 1km behind the lead teams. This is the battle that Franks was talking about in his book when he passed 1 ID through 2nd ACR in the middle of the night. LTC Baker guided us into position with chemlights, and once into position, bradleys from 2nd ACR fired of star clusters to mark the left and right limits of the passage point, and we went forward. The entire area was covered with scattered burning vehicles, and there were still MLRS firing over our heads as we moved into this stuff. The scouts moved out ahead, which I thought was stupid, since we already knew where they were, and this just risked fratricide, but that's what they wanted. The bradleys would designate a tank by firing 25mm at it, and when the tanks ID'd it, the target would be handed off to the tanks, who would put a sabot round into it. This was how almost all targets were engaged, and it was a very methodical thing, since it was almost pitch black, and we didn't have any fratricides. I did see a bradley off to our right get fratted, and could tell it wasn't enemy because it lit up with no incoming tracer. It came down on the net later that it was a frat, but not from our TF. The Iraqi crews were fighting, but could not ID targets because all they'd see was a flash on the horizon, since they're IR couldn't see that far. I saw a lot of inbound tracer, but never saw a hit. The crews of the Iraqi tanks began to figure out the pattern of 25mm and 120, and as tanks began going up, the crews of the next tank in line started to bail out when they knew they were next. Someone in 2-34 asked Fontenot if they should not fire on the crews after they took out the tanks, and he told them to kill them, since they had the chance to surrender and they didn't. I agree with this, but it does bother me. Baker didn't say anything like this, but no-one asked him. There was a lot of shit going off ahead of us, and you could see that it was pretty unreal, but the guys ahead did a thorough enough job that my whole platoon didn't fire a single round that night. We spent most of our time determining whether the hoard of dismounts we saw were hostile or not. We almost fired up one group, but someone could just make out a flag (barely showed cause it was cold) so we didn't engage. There were alot of dead and wounded everywhere and alot of the groups were dragging and carrying wounded. The main threat to us were the tanks and ammo trucks that had been destroyed and were cooking off everywhere. You had to weave between them and there was a lot of shit flying through the air. The tanks weren't as dangerous as the trucks, as the explosions were vented up through the hatches, but the trucks would blow shit in every direction, and were pretty hazardous. At one point, we came up to a sand wall, and I told my driver to gun it over it, so we wouldn't take a round in the belly, and as we crested over the tank dropped out from under me and I ended up on top of my gunner's back. We had fallen into a crater, and I climbed out of my hatch with a flashlight to figure out what had happened. I found out that my right track had thrown to the inside, and had gone completely over the edge of the mine-roller bracket. All I could think of was how fucked we were, and that we'd probably get left behind, and what happens when some Iraqi sees our tank stuck in this crater. I managed to walk my driver back onto the track, and was convinced it would snap at any time, as the heat from the centerguides gouging into the mineroller bracket and corner of the hull was turning the metal red and flames were actually spurting off. I tore a track block in half at Hohenfels once and this was thrown worse than that one. It popped back on, which I was in disbelief of, as it took a lot of jockeying the tank back and forth with to do up out of this crater, and I got back in my hatch. I could just see in the moonlight as far to my left and right that I could see a staggered line of craters into the darkness, and then realized this had been a B52 strike. We moved around the craters, and rejoined the formation, which was moving very slowly and deliberately ahead. I found out that 66 and 34 had also fallen into craters, and that 34 got his tank out, but 66 had broken track, and the CO jumped tanks. We moved out through the back of these positions somewhere around dawn, and stopped to refuel near a column of burnt out HETs. You could tell that they'd been hit right after off-loading the tanks, as they were all staggered to the left and right of this paved road in formation with the ramps down. Every one of them was burnt out. While we were passing these, my LT ran over a mine, and the explosion was so big that his whole tank disappeared in the smoke and sand. Something flew past my head, and a second later his tank just cruised right out the other side of this explosion. He looked over his shoulder at me, put his hands in the air and shrugged, so I put mine in the air and shrugged back. When we stopped to wait for the fuel, we checked his track, and found that 4 blocks or so had the rubber completely stripped off, that the cooling tubes were all missing, and that the pins, end connectors and center guides were all fucked up. I gave him 2 of my blocks so he wouldn't use all four of his, and he jumped tanks onto mine and I gave him my gunner to help his crew replace the track. We moved out and left them there, and continued east. They didn't catch up until the next day, along with the crew of 66. Our 1SG went back to find them with his HUMMV, and almost got whacked. He found 66, and they were moving back to us, but got the grid wrong, and came over a dune. A T72 and BMP were heading in their direction, and the T72 got the first shot off, which went right over top's HUMMV. SGT Savage (66 gunner) got the second shot off and whacked the 72, and then he got the BMP. He got a bronze star for that. When they all caught up, top gave me some of the stuff he found in the crater where I'd fallen in that had fallen out of my bustle rack. He said there had been a T72 not 200m from the crater dug in that I'd never seen. Apparently it was abandoned and cold. He said we would never have any idea what it looked like back there in daylight, and would never realize just what we'd gone through. He was just amazed and repeated it several times. We continued on into Kuwait, and then moved north into Iraq to Safwan. Around this time, we'd been out of MRE's for going on two days, and were drinking desalinated water, which tasted like shit. We stopped for a while in one place, and an S&T pulled stacked over the top with MRE cases. I went over to talk to the driver, who said he couldn't give them out. My LT came up, and I was starting to get pretty pissed, and the guy gave in and we got enough for the whole company. Part of the reason we had run out was we were throwing them to Iraqis the first and second days. We were told we were going to move into Kuwait city, and we moved out. This was after the cease fire. We moved into the outskirts of this built-up area, and the whole place was just incredibly dug in, easily as extensively as anything on the western front in WWI. Just ring after ring of trenches and bunkers. We got near the edge of town, and there were some tanks and trucks in a thin line of palms near a bunch of buildings. We were listening to music, and eating MREs. You could see what I though were Egyptians or something loading up trucks and moving all over the place policing up equipment. We sat there for a couple of hours. We initially had an aux radio on every tank in the company, but the LT's had gone down while we were in Saudi, and since I was his wingman, I had to fess mine up. So everone could hear the company net but my tank. I found out later that we were actually at Safwan, that those were RGSF troops, and that they were packing up and pulling out. Nobody had remembered that I couldn't hear the company net, and they didn't think to tell me what was going on, just figuring I had no comment. It ended up this was the stand-off of the RGSF unit at Safwan where the T72 unit was refusing to leave, and one of the TF cdrs came out front and threatened to kill them all if they didn't pull out, pointing back at all of us and telling him there were a couple hundred more behind. We eventually pulled in as they pulled out, and we moved into positions they had abandoned around a hill with a knocked out radar complex next to the airfield at Safwan. There was an abandoned T72 out in front of where nwe stopped, and we all stripped stuff off it for souvenirs and then I trashed all the optics and stuff with a tanker bar. I got to play around in the turret for a while, and T72's are a piece of shit. This was the only place I saw a knocked out M1. As we came around the hill by the airfield before we stopped, there was an M1, don't remember what unit, with a big HEAT splash on the front slope, the L/S idler and fender missing, and the #1 roadwheel and maybe the #2 missing. Three of the crew were sitting on top of the turret eating, and I didn't see the fourth. It looked like it took two HEAT rounds from the front, with the one hitting the hull only making a mess of the paint. I talked to another guy who saw the same tank, and swears it was mine damage. If it was, it had to be tilt-rods because of the way the splash mark was all over the front slope, under and on top. A day or two later, they took the 2nd plt from each company, and we moved to the airfield to guard the cease-fire talks. We all lined up on the south side of the airfield, about 100m apart, with tank platoons and bradley platoons alternating. There was a battery or two of M109's east of the airfield, and if I remember right, a patriot battery. I got pictures of all the choppers coming in, including Schwartzkopf, which I know was his because I read that he was in a Blackhawk with 6 apaches escorting, and there was only one group like that that came in. They had us track the Iraqis that they brought in with HUMMV's with our main guns, to put them into the proper frame of mind. Franks didn't mention this in his book, although he did say we were there for attitude adjustment, if I remember right. You could see their faces plainly in the reticle, and they weren't happy. After it was over, we went back to our positions, sat there for I think a couple of days, then moved to a holding area. Me and Walker got HETed back to Saudi because of our wine-cup seal leaks, and they said everyone else would follow in two days. They ended up staying up there for like a month-6 weeks, and we just rotted away in the desert with the Bde advance party back in Saudi. They shot up an Iraqi van that had a truck bomb in it which exploded up there, but otherwise everything was quiet. When we got HETed, they took us down the coast road, and our crews were in the back of a deuce and a half. We drove through the wreckage of the highway of death not long after they had bulldozed a path through it, and it was pretty unreal. We got alerted a couple of times while we were down south that HETs were on the way to bring us back up north because things were going to go hot again, but it was just rumors. I think there were chemicals in the RGSF battle we were in, because I've got a friend I worked with at Knox after I made E-7 that was in 2nd ACR. I found out while we were talking one day that he was one of the scouts firing off the star clusters to mark the passage point. He and I have similar symptoms, but he was falling apart when he retired. I've got the same symptoms, but not as bad. I figure it's because he had been in the area all day, from when it turned into the battle of 73 Easting to the battle of Objective Norfolk. I decided to waste all this time typing, because I haven't written this out, and have meant to. I'm deploying to Bosnia (Brcko) in March, and my kids (I have three sons, once borne in Germany, the other two after I came back from Iraq. Both of my youngest were borne with kidney problems), and I'd like them to know what I did, just in case something happens in Bosnia. So I'm printing this now before I post it.
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: War Stories From: Dan Welch Date: 12/22/98 1:56:22 PM Scott Cunningham said: |Dan, that was an excellent story. I knew Col Fontenot when he was |over in Germany and around the time he was commanding 1st BDE, 1st |AD. I think there was some kind of book about C company from your old |BN that came out after the war. Which company were you in? Good luck |in Bosnia. I was in A Co. I have the book you're talking about, and it is a piece of shit. I knew several of the guys in the book, and I talked briefly with the guy before we went over there. If I saw him on the street today, I'd be in jail for assault. He makes them look like a circus, and that was not the case. The guy that wrote this book was a writer for Esquire magazine, and all I could think of as I read this book was tabloid, tabloid, tabloid. He was looking for dirt, and what I saw was something that was often based in truth, but twisted into something sick. Even his sub-title, "The real war in Iraq", implies that the conflict was not with the Iraqis, but within the company itself. The people whom he befriended over there had no idea what he was doing over there with the info he was getting, and he is deeply hated by virtually everyone he wrote about. I am even of the understanding that he didn't ruin the careers of the people he wrote about, as the people they worked for knew better than what he printed. I can only hope this is true. Even the way he started it off pissed me off, as the dumbass who married the stripper downtown was a central character of the book. Trying to get in his gratuitous sex into the book I suppose. Of all the people he portrays, he doesn't mention the fact that 90% or more of the company is married, has kids, goes home at night like anyone else, and lead typically responsible, relatively boring lives. No, he makes the company look like a bunch of rowdy drunk youths that are resentful of authority and just looking for diversions. People didn't like Captain Burns as a rule, but the fratricide plan was not serious. No one would open fire on him. I knew about the "Bart Simpson" (if I remember right) codeword, and it was just guys who were irritated with him talking shit. It was no more serious than me saying I'm gonna Take a leak on Bill Clinton if I ever get the chance. Sure I'd love to, but if I ever did get the chance, of course I wouldn't do it. The guy whom he portrayed as an evangelical fanatic was religious, but not like some kind of guy that walks around speaking the word of God all day as he portrays him. He was a very normal kind of a guy, and he went to NTC with us when I was in D Co before the war. Companies were always short of people before we went over there, and we were always sending people opcon to other units to bring them up to strength. Even though I can't recall his name without looking it up, I knew him pretty well. Well anyway, the book is a worthless rag, and I hope that you believe that. I knew a lot of these guys, and they were professionals. The only real screw-up they made was at Objective Norfolk, when they got a Magellan heading wrong, and ended up having to come back around to get into formation properly. I heard about this after the war, as C Co was fighting with TF2-34, and we were fighting with TF5-16.
Subject: Re: Dan's story From: Dan Welch Date: 12/22/98 5:44:09 PM Vasiliy Fofanov said: |The story was really mesmerizing! | |Two things that I'd like to ask about are | |1) I didn't understand that 25mm-120mm thing. Why was it done this |way? What was the role of Bradleys? | |2) Concerning this chemicals suspicion. Why on Earth don't |American tankers fight buttoned up?! Especially at night when you have |to use night vision gear anyway?! Iraqis were _known_ to have NBC |weapons back then, why appropriate precautions weren't taken? | |Dan, all the best to you in Bosnia, I wish you to never have to |shoot there! What I was describing was that the Bradleys would fire 25mmm at the Iraqi tanks to designate individual targets for our tanks to shoot at. This would be announced "Watch my tracer" to show what specific target to shoot at. They did it this way so that it cut down on the probability of shooting one of our own tanks. If a friendly tank started getting hit with 25mm, you'd know you were about to make a fatal mistake. Understand that this fighting was in the middle of the night, in poor weather with very little moon, and there were burning vehicles everywhere, with friendly and enemy vehicles intermixed everywhere. We had the advantage of thermal sights that outranged the Iraqi's IR's, so we could afford the luxury of being this methodical. The guys up front were firing one or a few at a time to increase the fire discipline and reduce risks. I know some of the guys in the companies up front that could probably be considered tank aces because of the numbers of tanks they knocked out. If I remember right, one of the gunners fighting with B Tm got like 8 or 9 tanks alone. We also had a thing called "iceberg". If someone announced "iceberg" over the net, everyone was supposed to stop moving (except for the turret). Anyone still moving was to be considered enemy, since everyone on our frequency presumably would have heard it. We called iceberg once though, and someone was still moving, and there was a quick debate over the radio while we decided this one vehicle was actually friendly that was still moving. Sometimes it was very hard to determine what was what. A real thermal battle is a very straining experience, since nothing can actually be seen without night vision equipment and everything is distorted. Also, the reason we fought open hatched (everyone I remember, anyway) was that it's very hard to TC a tank buttoned up. It's hard during the daylight without NBC conditions, and it's 10 times worse at night. We started out buttoned up right after crossing the sandwall, and eventually went to open protected, and then to open, just because it's so much easier, and we got less intimidated as the days went by. Nothing can give you a better feeling of what's going on around you in the darkness than being up out of your hatch with a pair of night vision goggles, which you had to do to stay in formation, move around stuff, look for dismounts, etc. This is impossible to do from the gunner's sight or driver's sight. And you can't do it from the TC's cupola with the hatch closed. The problem with chemicals is that we had a detector (M8), but no-one had batteries for it, so it was useless. There's a mount for it in the driver and TC's positions, but you shouldn't run it inside without the proper outlet filter anyway, since it gives off it's own toxic vapors. We tried to catch a rat, to make a cage to put on the doghouse so we could watch its reactions, but the rats were so hard to catch we never did get one. We were all wearing MOPP gear, but this degrades performance quickly, so never went above MOPP 2 (suit and overboots worn, gloves and mask carried but not worn), since we never received warning of a full blown chemical attack. I don't know if there were any of the German built "foxes" in our area, I never saw one. We had one chemical alarm down in Saudi during the bombing, and we all went to full chemical posture, but I don't know if there was anything in the area. Our M256 kits came up negative. Once, while we were on our ramp at the sandwall, I started vomitted violently for no apparent reason, emptied my stomach and dry heaved for a while in the ditch, and then went back to scanning for Iraqis. Don't know if that was anything either.
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: War Stories From: Scott Cunningham Date: 12/22/98 6:25:36 PM Dan, my replacement at one of my jobs last tour over in Germany was in the company the book was about. He said a lot about it was true but he said also that it was very much like a tabloid in the way that it was written. I don't know the CO, but apparently he was a stress case and not all that popular. I have the book but only read part of it because it was so poorly written. Could you imagine that buffon, having the chance to follow a tank unit into Iraq and then turning out a piece of crap like that. I mentally blacklisted the author and won't read anything he writes (even though I really haven't seen anything recently by him). Concerning authors and writers, I met the reported from the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks before he ended Col Fontenot's career with the article from Bosnia. He was on the railhead that I was running in Kirch Gons deploying 1st BDE, and he had been there on Fontenot's invitation and was riding in with the first wave of peacekeeping troops. Small world
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Dan's story From: Tony Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 12/23/98 10:29:34 AM Vasiliy Fofanov said: |In any case I must say that either I am missing something or it |looks like the chemical troops showed incredible lack of diligence in |ODS. Either noone really believed in Iraqi bio/chem weapons then or it |amounts to criminal negligence. I would expect chem observation helos |and ground troops to be on a battlefield at all times. It sounds so |that if fast-acting poison agents were to be used, several TFs could |be immediately knocked out of action for good. I am beginning to be |appalled about this. The problem - one that few are aware of (and even fewer who are aware seem to be willing to talk about) - is that the primary chemical detectors were not designed to operate effectively in an environment of half burned hydrocarbon vapors. All those burning oil wells caused so many nuisance alarms that detectors adjustable for sensitivity were set to very high threshold levels and alarms from non-adjustable detectors were disregarded, often at the insistence of tactical commanders who were interested in getting on with the war. My own battalion (1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Task Force Papa Bear, 1st MarDiv) experienced two chemical alarms that I know of. The first occurred at about 0400 on the morning of the 26th. We were in the middle of the El Burqan oil field (very much on fire) at the time, and had been there all night without receiving fire, so this alarm was almost definitely bogus. The second alarm was sounded a few klicks south of the Kuwait International Airport, which was about 30km to the northwest of the location of the previous alarm. We were not under fire at this location either, but we were passing through an area that had been occupied by the 3rd Iraqi Armored Division. No one in our unit developed any adverse symptoms after the war, to my knowledge. I'm not sure whether we got lucky or whether this whole chemical thing has been way oversold. I do know that, by the afternoon of the third day of the war, we would have pretty much disregarded anything but an obvious attack with chemical weapons in the form of artillery or bombs.
Subject: Funny (Now!) M256 Story From: Ray Manning (email@example.com) Date: 12/23/98 2:14:27 PM SCENE: 3:00 a.m. (morning of the air-bombardment starting in Iraq) SITUATION: (Determined later) Medic stumbles out of track to water roadwheel, sees flashes in the distance, thinks it's arty, falls back into track, grabs mike, screams GAS! GAS! GAS! MY TANK I'm on radio watch. Do exactly like I'm trained. Shut eyes. Stop Breathing. Mask. Clear......uhhhhh. After I blow out and try to suck in my mask collapses in perfect vacuum on my face. Things are getting black. I realize I left my M16 muzzle plug on my mask cannister (left there to keep out dirt). Vacuum is holding it on harder than I can pull it off. Claw fingers under mask to break seal so I can pull of muzzle plug. FINALLY clear mask properly. Make sure my driver is masked. Tell him to go check on loader (in lean-to by tank). Loader tells him to F*** Off because we've already wakened him once to put on his NBC suit. Driver is shining light in his eyes yelling a muffled "GET YOUR SHIT ON!". Loader finally realizes that someone WEARING A MASK is yelling "GET YOUR SHIT ON!" Loader freaks out and pulls his mask straps so hard he breaks one. Comes to tank with strap hanging over his face. Asks me what I can do. My response? "Nothing". We use duct tape wrapped around his head to get a seal. He looks like a giant Q-Tip. Loader than tells me--"I've got the symptoms, Sarge." I ask him to explain. He tells me he's out of breath, hard to breathe, tightness in chest, rapid heartbeat, difficulty seeing. I tell him he's scared and he's got tape wrapped around his damned head so that's normal. FINALLY start my M256 kit. I get about 10 minutes into it (I'm NBC tank). Another Tank Commander (A complete idiot name of ---never mind, ask Wade) calls to say he's got POSITIVE NERVE. Now I've got symptoms. I then realize he couldn't have done it correctly in that time. Tell him to do another one correctly. I finish mine--NEGATIVE. I start another. Same idiot Tank Commander calls again--POSITIVE NERVE. My symptoms start again. Tell him to do another. I finish my second one--NEGATIVE. A thought crosses my mind. I call the idiot. I ask him what color packet he's using. He tells me BLUE (For those that don't know--it's a TRAINING packet that's DESIGNED to show a positive result--real ones are GREEN). I resist the urge to walk over to his tank and kill him on the spot. I ask the commander for permission to begin unmasking procedures. He says to wait. I see the one of the medics outside his track watering the roadwheel. He's looking at the sky. He doesn't have a mask. I tell the commander it's "all clear" because our medics have been unmasked the past hour. (I assume) The commander resists the urge to walk over to the medics and kill them all on the spot. END OF STORY. Like I said.......it's pretty funny.......now.
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dan's story From: Dan Welch Date: 12/23/98 3:22:06 PM BOB, I'm not sure that I'm reading you right. I would never ask for my dues back, and consider any residual effects from the war part of my dues. My only complaint, if there be one, is that I hope that if I develop serious problems, that they (and my family), be taken care of, which was part of the deal when I came in. Are those the dues you're talking about, or am I way off track here? Anyway, on the subject, I don't understand why it should be any surprise to anyone, in a place where chemical munitions were stockpiled on and off the battlefield, and with everyone knowing every effort was being made to destroy those munitions before they could be used, that there would of course be residual effects when those stockpiles were blown to bits. I would expect it to be so, and anyone who would put a little bit of logic into their thought process would probably come up with the same conclusion. So what's the big deal? If I had a leg blown off, I'd be living with that, just as I am living with the inconveniences (which at this point is all they are, although the asthma attacks get kind of hairy sometimes) that I have from whatever this is. It is simply one of the consequences of war, and I don't understand why all the denial and cover-up, and even the public (minor) outrage. It's nothing compared to the casualties of chemicals from WW I. The only reason I can come up with is the possibility, which has already been raised, that some of the munitions were of US origin, left over from covert supply by us during the Iran/Iraq war. But again, I don't understand the big deal, since even that is business as usual, and why should anyone be surprised? As far as Vasily's observations, I can tell you this: I saw nothing negligent other than not being able to get batteries for our M8 alarms. I do have a problem with the fact that we never seemed to have a problem getting them for training, but couldn't get one to save our lives during war, although I do understand that the logistics efforts were massive. You would think that something like these batteries would at least have priority over most any other item. But then again, maybe they were hoarding them in the rear for SCUD scared REMF's. They seemed to hoard most things. As far as in combat, we were already in chemical overgarments (MOPP suits) with boots, and you don't operate with the gloves and mask on unless you absolutely have to, which would mean an outright alarm, and under the circumstances, this didn't happen. I don't believe that there were any FOX chem vehicles in our immediate area, but I don't know. The only other way would be either an M8 alarm, which we didn't have batteries for, or a positive reading on an M256 kit, which we had no reason to believe we needed to initiate one. Training norms begat us using M256 kits to verify an M8 alarm detection, to see if it was indeed a positive alarm, and to detect what agent was being used. The M256 kit was also used for unmasking procedures, to verify whether any agents were still present, and if a negative reading, then the unmasking drill began. Nothing we witnessed warrented doing these kits. But with hindsight, it probably wouldn't have been a bad idea to just do one of these kits at regular intervals to see if everything was OK. This probably would have detected low levels of residual chemicals, which could have prevented these long term residual effects, if that's what they indeed are. Isn't hindsight a wonderful tool for future combatants? Anyone reading this, take a note of that. I'm going to suggest it in future training sessions. But then again, what if we'd used up our stocks of M256 kits to verify the absense of something, and then had none left when we got hit by repeated attacks? Say the war had gone differently, and we ended up getting hit with repeated attacks, with no way to verify contamination other than simply unmasking? Scary thought. We did come up with one smart idea, though. We called it a "sniffer". We kept oil sample tubing on hand (kind of like clear plastic fuel line), and kept it with the M8 alarm. We figured if we got contaminated, after we went through decon procedures, we could stick the tubing over the intake on the M8 (it fit perfectly), and insert the end into places like sponson boxes, duffle bags, etc., places where chemical vapors might still be present, to see if they're clean or not. But anyway, without having a blatant reason to mask up, you're just not going to do it. It degrades your performance too much. We were too busy dealing with obvious dangers like people with weapons to think too much about chemicals that didn't seem to be present at the time.
Subject: Re: Funny (Now!) M256 Story From: Dan Welch Date: 12/23/98 3:53:56 PM OK, here's our first one....... 0200 or 0300, Saudi, north of tapline road. Just got off radio watch and in my underwear in the fart sack on top of the turret next to the dog house. Just about out....on the radio: "GAS GAS GAS!!!" OH FUCK!!! Grab for my mask and it falls into the loaders hatch. I jump into the loader's hatch in my underwear holding my breath, and my loader comes piling in off the back deck over my head. My gunner was in the TC's hatch with PVS-7s, and is closing his hatch. I struggle with the loaders' hatch while holding my breath for eternity, and am losing since all the plywood, bedouin tent, etc., crap they're making us carry is caught on the hatch and this fucking this is going to close damn it! There it goes, now the mask before anything else happens! I'm in my underwear in the loaders station, and my loader is standing there looking at me, so I point my gunner, also looking at me, into his station, then I climb into mine. I go for my CVC, which by unfortunate lack of forethought I have always set on the CWS sight head, which is now out in nerve-agent-land. So I grab my loader's, who now can't hear what's going on. I start hearing traffic on the net, and tell Best to start the tank. Everyone finally starts to think, and starts doing PCC's, like we should. I then realize underwear is not an appropriate overgarment, and bust into my ICE pack to get a MOPP suit on, as my clothes are also in blister-agent-land. So Carey and Blackshear see me doing this, and start busting theirs out. Sounds good to me, so I tell Best to get his on too. I see a fly buzzing around in the turret, which I determine is a good sign, and start looking out through the TIS, which is now cooled down, looking for rats outside, which are running around, good. But it doesn't mean this couldn't be a downwind message alarm, which means we might be getting hit any time. So A23, SSG Bauer, comes on the net and says that A24's crew (names withheld) is still in fart sacks and not moving. So we have a quick debate, during which I mention the facts that if they are indeed dead, it's going to take a while for them to cool down, and if they aren't dead, we need to wake them up. I also volunteer to drive my tank over and smack their turret with the gun tube of my tank. About this time, someone comes over company with a negative 256 reading. Blackshear has just about finished ours, and I begin to talk about unmasking procedures. This is going to involve Carey (my loader, who cannot hear any of this) to pull his mask away from his face, replace it, and us to observe for effects. Best mentions the fact that Carey is probably going to freak, and Blackshear immediately states that we need to take his M16 away. Then the battle image in my mind appears of our first firefight of the war. The gun battle inside my turret as we lunge for his weapon and tug at his mask with pistols drawn, as he no doubt is not going to want to cooperate with this! Then someone notices the crew of 24 stirring in their fart sacks, Blackshear comes up with a negative M256 reading, the bug is still flying, and the rats are still romping. The CO comes over the net with all clear, and it's over. We all laughed about it too after, but I tell you what, it was no joke at the time. The funniest part was Blackshear (my gunner who was on watch). He said when he heard gas over the net, he went "(sniff sniff), Hmpf! I don't smell anything.....OH SHIT!!!" After that we all kept EVERYTHING we might need inside our stations, dumped everything they wanted us to carry on the blowout panels into the burn pit, and began trying to catch a rat to make up for our lack of M8 batteries.
Subject: Re: Re: Funny (Now!) M256 Story From: Tony Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 12/23/98 4:34:53 PM That reminds me... 0400, February 26, 1991 - With 2nd Platoon, Bravo 1/1 in the El Burqan oil field. 2nd Plt. had been tasked with battalion advanced guard (actually a route recon mission, since the oil pipelines - which looked inconsequential on the map - constituted serious trafficability problems on the ground) and was preparing to step off. I was standing next to our track, attaching my shelter half to my backpack, when someone yells, "GAS, GAS, GAS!" I immediately drop what I'm doing and reach for my mask - only to realize that I had left in to my hole, on the opposite side of the vehicle. I tear-ass around the back of the track to where I had left my mask. After donning and clearing, I look around and see that everyone in my squad is masked and sitting up in their holes. I felt kind of silly, but no one ever said anything about it - in the surreal environment in which we were operating, with everything backlit by oil well infernos, I doubt if anyone even noticed.
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Vehicle Recognition From: Wade Barttels (email@example.com) Date: 12/27/98 1:05:54 PM The average tank or BFV crew can identify a M113, BFV, a tank, or most of the equipment in use by the Army. Ironically, this is because they get more time on the sights as they spend a lot of time in the field training. For the Apaches pilots to get the same amount of time on the sights (thus indirectly learning how to ID friendly vehicles) would mean a lot of flying hours which is not acceptable in todays budget. I have the tape that shows the footage of the incident and must say I knew immediately that the one vehicle was a M113 but the BFV was very hard to ID due to the angle he was viewing it from but a simple movement by the pilot could have changed his viewing angle to show it was a BFV. Something a tank could not do with out making a big move. Also, I believe the officer was forced to resign or retire (or something like that) which does not bring back the dead crewmen. As Eric says some people don't care about vehicle ID. Of course if they are a Tank or BFV crew they have to pass AFVID portion of the TCGST or BCGST before live fire so if they are sneaking by it is the leaders letting them. Just my opinions. Flame away. Wade
Subject: Re: Friendly Fire Incident From: Chris Costello (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 12/28/98 8:35:47 AM While I attended OBC this year we had a class on Fratricide. They showed us the program from the Donahue show. The Col and the enlisted soldier were both on the program. The enlisted soldier was horribly disfigured from the vehicle fire. If anyone has seen the type of injuries a burn can leave, then you understand how this soldier appeared. His face looked like he was wearing a mask with the features completely erased. He had his fingers burned off from the fire. In an attempt to give this soldier a "new" hand the surgeons had removed his large toe and put it on his hand as a thumb. They also removed some other toes to give this soldier some digits on his hand. I do not remember the number of operations he had but it was more than two dozen. When asked if he would allow the surgeons to "fix" his other hand he said he probably would not as it was now difficult to walk. He was then asked if he felt the US was "wrong" to go into Kuwait. He stated that we had a duty to fulfill and that he had a duty too. He indicated that he did not regret that he was hurt and acknowledged it as one of the things that can happen in war. He was very stoic. I just did not understand how he could be handling it so well. I wonder if he will start to have regrets as he gets older and has troubles meeting a wife or having a "normal" life. I bet he will not feel so patriotic then. I really feel for that soldier.
Subject: Re: Re: Friendly Fire Incident From: Wade Barttels (email@example.com) Date: 12/28/98 9:11:30 AM Chris, I met the soldier you are talking about while visiting my wife in Brooke Army Hospital in San Antino (Jun 91). He was just getting around on his own and we were in the elevator together and he was pretty upbeat and when we went to the mess hall (dining room for you officers) he had a thing he slid on his hand so he could hold a folk and eat with out help. He was pretty determined not to need any help and do everything for himself. I hope he can go through the rest of his life with this this positive outlook. He is one brave man. Wade
Subject: Re: Chem hazard From: Dan Welch Date: 12/24/98 1:03:44 PM Vasiliy Fofanov said: |Dan, masking is certainly out of question. I don't think anyone |can propose this as a prophilactic measure. | |But doesn't US Army have specialized chem recon troops? So far I |only saw mention of these Fox vehicles which you never saw close by |anyway; what about helos? Also, Dan, can you verify that _additional_ |(ie. exceeding standard procedures) bio/chem alert levels were in |effect? Particularly, were you issued universal antidotes? Were you |vaccinized? Did you ever see chem troops taking samples before orders |to move out/break camp were issued? | |You have the attitude of 'what's the big deal', but I think you |are wrong here. Chem weapons pose great threat to the army that fights |with open hatches, and therefore chem troops must be always on |guard. So far I get an understanding that tankers were left _ENTIRELY_ |to their own devices in the field of chem hazard detection, and worse, |weren't provided with all possible equipment (am I correct?). As a |result, the problem _had_ to be neglected for the tankers to be able |to concentrate on their main mission. Isn't it a major planning |mistake that could cause massive casualties and maybe did cause very |longlasting health problems?! Good questions. We were immunized with (unfortunately) several concoctions including stuff that was experimental, and not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. We didn't ask questions, we just did as ordered. There were no specialized chemical troops anywhere near us that I know of. All units have an NBC NCO. These guys don't have a lot of specialized equipment, and can't perform much more than the basic stuff that regular NCO's can (they get into the picture with things like fallout prediction, downwind messages, etc.) I've been through the course, and there's not really alot they can do out their other than put a bug in the CO's ear and hope he takes their advice. I'm sure there's equipment out there that we don't have in the system, and as I stated we couldn't even get batteries for our detectors. Maybe criminal, that's not for me to decide, but for pissed off families and congressmen. Yes, longterm effects are a concern, and the steady degradation of forces in the field over long periods of low level exposure, but other than living in a full-up chemical protective posture inside vehicles with hatches closed unless absolutely necessary to open them, I don't know what else you can do. I wish there were helicopters hovering ahead of us (not an option when the bullets start flying) and "foxes" out front with the scouts, but I don't think there will ever be an appropriate number of these type vehicles in many armies. Call me apathetic, but I really am grateful for every day I get to spend on this earth, as I considered myself a dead man in 1990. And that was nothing compared to the German nightmare scenarios that I dreamed up during the coldwar. Huge flattened areas burnt black for miles around, so hot from radiation for miles downwind that nothing could go there. Chainsaws on all vehicles just to cut through collateral tree blowdowns for miles so you can move. Reading maps with no-go areas shaded all over them from persitant chemical contamination that you avoid as you move through towns appearing abandoned, except for the contaminated decaying corpses of civilians that no-one has the manpower to dispose of. Getting the order to move out into the offensive and rolling through acres and acres of vehicles and dugin positions manned by the dead, victims of neutron warheads. Never being safe anywhere at any time, because of 24-7 capability of everyone with cluster, terminally guided and mass destruction weapons. No sir, I am perfectly happy with what I have, whatever it is. And I have no gripes with anyone. I only hope that the families of the people whose lives I've destroyed can be as forgiving to me as I am to those who started the whole thing, as that is life in the world we live in. Believe it or not, I'm a very upbeat kind of guy.
Subject: Re: Re: Fratricide and the US Army From: Dan Welch Date: 12/28/98 10:46:04 PM I've been very close to/seen two incidents of fratricide. When I was in 11th ACR, our D Co destroyed 2 B Troop Bradleys and nearly engaged the safety vehicle. This was at range 301 at Graf. It killed a kid named Jerry Westmoreland, who was driving one of the bradleys, and put a couple of the others out of the Army. A couple were well enough, after severe burns healed, to stay in, and it was terrible to look at them. Jerry's funeral was in an assembly area near BK, as we prepared to go on Reforger 88. Our entire squadron was devastated. It was absolutely terrible. The second fratricide was from the unit to our south during the Battle of Obj. Norfolk in the Gulf, which I mentioned earlier in this thread. Again a Bradley, which I saw get hit out of the corner of my eye, and watched it burning off and on as we pushed through the RGSF out of sight. If you read the post earlier in the thread, you'll see how we prevented fratricide in our TF, and it worked well. It was during the night, almost pitch black except for broken moonlight and rocket fire/burning vehicles. It was very deliberate, but night fighting has to be that way. We did not sacrifice common sense for safety, and it paid off. The more we get into high tech warfare, where sensors and long range targeting determine our shots, the more deliberate we'll have to be. That just comes with the territory we're opening up. There's no way around that, and we have to train appropriately. I've never heard of artillery not being able to fire over friendly troops, other than (IIRC)firing RAP rounds at Graf when I was arty, but that was for purposes of peacetime training only. No training fratricide is worth the haste or carelessness which usually cause these things, when the purpose is to train to the standard. If it's done correctly, it will rarely happen. And if it's done correctly, it will pay off in war. We actually had very few fratricides in the Gulf, compared to most wars, and I believe this is because we were training right in the 80's. And with our focus on extreme measures to prevent fratricide, I believe it will only pay off dividends when the time comes, as I'm sure most armies don't pay nearly as much attention to the issue as we do. Time will only tell, but I believe we are on the right track.
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